Diary of John Adams, volume 2

1771. April 16. Tuesday Evening.<a xmlns="http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0" href="#DJA02d007n1" class="note" id="DJA02d007n1a">1</a> JA


1771. April 16. Tuesday Evening. Adams, John
1771. April 16. Tuesday Evening.1

Last Wednesday my Furniture was all removed to Braintree.2 Saturday, I carried up my Wife and youngest Child,3 and spent the Sabbath there, very agreably. On the 20th. or 25th. of April 1768, I removed into Boston. In the 3 Years I have spent in that Town, have received innumerable Civilities, from many of the Inhabitants, many Expressions of their good Will both of a public and private Nature. Of these I have the most pleasing and gratefull Remembrance. I wish all the Blessings of this Life and that which is to come, to the worthy People there, who deserve from Mankind in general much better Treatment than they meet with. I wish to God it was in my Power to serve them, as much as it is in my Inclination.—But it is not.—My Wishes are impotent, my Endeavours fruitless and ineffectual, to them, and ruinous to myself. What are to be the Consequences of the Step I have taken Time only can discover. Whether they shall be prosperous or Adverse, my Design was good, and therefore I never shall repent it.

Monday Morning, I returned to Town and was at my Office before Nine, I find that I shall spend more Time in my Office than ever I did. Now my family is away, I feel no Inclination at all, no Temptation to be any where but at my Office. I am in it by 6 in the Morning—I am in it, at 9 at night—and I spend but a small Space of Time in running down to my Brothers to Breakfast, Dinner, and Tea.4

Yesterday, I rode to Town from Braintree before 9, attended my Office till near two, then dined and went over the ferry to Cambridge, attended the House the whole Afternoon, returned, and spent the whole Evening in my Office, alone—and I spent the Time much more profitably, as well as pleasantly, than I should have done at Clubb. 7This Evening is spending the same Way. In the Evening, I can be alone at my Office, and no where else. I never could in my family.


First entry in “Paper book No. 17” (our D/JA/17), a stitched gathering of leaves containing fairly regular entries from this date through 14 June 1771.


The return to Braintree, as JA explains in detail in his Autobiography, was in order to improve his health and to avoid continuous overwork; but he kept his law office in Boston and after about a year and a half returned to live in town (see 22 Sept. 1772, below).


“1770 May 29. Charles, Son of said John and Abigail was born, Thursday Morning at Boston, and the next Sabbath was baptized by Dr. Cooper” (entry by JA in his father's copy of Willard's Compleat Body of Divinity; see HA2, John Adams's Book, Boston, 1934, p. 5, and facsimile of family record).


Doubtless William Smith Jr. (1746–1787), AA's brother, whose somewhat remarkable Boston household is briefly described in the entry of 23 July, below.

1771. Feb. [i.e. April] 18. Thursday. Fastday. JA


1771. Feb. [i.e. April] 18. Thursday. Fastday. Adams, John
1771. Feb. i.e. April 18. Thursday. Fastday.

Tuesday I staid at my Office in Town, Yesterday went up to Cambridge. Returned at Night to Boston, and to Braintree, still, calm, happy Braintree—at 9. o Clock at night. This Morning, cast my Eyes out to see what my Workmen had done in my Absence, and rode with my Wife over to Weymouth. There we are to hear young Blake—a pretty fellow.

Saturday [20 April]. JA


Saturday [20 April]. Adams, John
Saturday 20 April.

Fryday morning by 9 o Clock, arrived at my Office in Boston, and this Afternoon returned to Braintree. Arrived just at Tea time. Drank Tea with my Wife. Since this Hour a Week ago I have led a Life Active enough—have been to Boston twice, to Cambridge twice, to Weymouth once, and attended my office, and the Court too. But I shall be no more perplexed, in this Manner. I shall have no Journeys to make to Cambridge—no general Court to attend—But shall divide my Time between Boston and Braintree, between Law And Husbandry. Farewell Politicks. Every Evening I have been in Town, has been spent till after 9. at my Office. Last Evening I read thro, a Letter from Robt. Morris Barrister at Law and late Secretary to the Supporters of the Bill of Rights, to Sir Richd. Aston, a Judge of the King's Bench. A bold, free, open, elegant Letter it is. Annihilation would be the certain Consequence of such a Letter here, where the Domination of our miniature infinitessimal Deities, far exceeds any Thing in England.

This mettlesome Barrister gives us the best Account of the Unanimity of the Kings Bench that I have ever heard or read. According to him, it is not uncommon abilities, Integrity and Temper as Mr. Burrows would perswade us, but sheer fear of Lord Mansfield, the Scottish Chief which produces this Miracle in the moral and intellectual 8World—i.e. of 4 Judges, agreeing perfectly in every Rule, order and Judgment for 14 Years together. 4 Men never agreed so perfectly in Sentiment, for so long a Time, before. 4 Clocks never struck together, a thousandth Part of the Time, 4 Minds never thought, reasoned, and judged alike, before for a ten thousandth Part.